Something really unusual: a Hamilton "Pacer" presented to then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson in 1958, two years before he was elected Vice-President and five years before he assumed the Presidency upon Kennedy's assassination.
Overall it's in amazing condition. There is some wear on the back edges, but the original glass crystal is 100% flawless, as is the original dial. The strap is a high-quality contemporary alligator replacement.
The movement was a joy to work on -- it's so rare to find a 500 that hasn't been butchered over the years. There's one watchmaker's mark in the case back, a two-letter code. I suspect that was probably for a battery change. I wonder if he might have been wearing this watch when he was asked to run for VP in 1960?
I have another LBJ Hamilton Electric watch, but it's one that he gave to someone else, not one given to him. His gift watches are well-documented. He had Hamilton Electrics as well as other brands made with custom dials bearing his distinctive initials, and the 'golden rule' (which he was obsessed with). These were given out to favored guests and staff.
I got some background info from the consignment dealer who sold it:I have no reason to doubt this story. LBJ was very well-known for his lavish gift-giving. The 'Golden Rule' watches are just one of many examples of that. But if the story is true, it means that he wore this Pacer at least occasionally as President.Yes. i can tell you what the former owner told me. Perhaps going forward I will be able to tell you more, depending on how much the former owner will voluntarily tell me.
This watch was given to a 4 tour Vietnam combat veteran, a black airman, by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, during a White House ceremony. I do not know the exact type of medal this airman received, but the President decided to give him something else special: the watch.
This combat decorated veteran gave it to his grandson before passing away some years ago. The grandson came to our store wanting to sell his grandpa and grandma's watches for $150. I told him that I would not/could not in good conscience pay him that money for these special remembrances. Therefore, I consigned it for him, getting him much more that he imagined. He is happier, probably much happier than you, because he now has a brief measure of immediate financial relief even if of a transient nature. But I digress. I will attempt to give more information to you as I glean it. Perhaps dates, times, names, etc.
Meanwhile, I contacted the Johnson Presidential Library and they confirmed the event engraved on the case back.Here's pages one and three of the program (page two is a photo/bio of Johnson, page four is a list of local notables in attendance):In the Statements collection, Box 26, "10/18/58 Address, Democratic Meeting, Welch, West Virginia," there are copies of Senator Johnson's speech, and a letter from West Virginia Attorney General W. W. Barron to Johnson's aide, George Reedy, and Reedy's response about the Senator's upcoming speech in West Virginia. Of particular interest to you may be the program for this event which includes an entry for the "Presentation of Gift" by B. M. Stone.
Separately I heard from their audio-visual department about (hopefully) finding a photo of Johnson wearing the watch. No luck there -- needle in a haystack:I'm not quite sure how, but I'll keep trying to find a photograph, and I'll also try to learn more about the award ceremony where the watch was reportedly given to a Vietnam vet.Sen. Johnson did visit Welch WV on October 18, 1958. Here's the entry from our files:
10/18 LBJ goes to the Mayflower to meet with Truman. In the afternoon LBJ, Reedy and Wiley fly to Bluefield, West Virginia and meet with area people before driving to Welch, West Va. That evening LBJ is a speaker at the Democratic fundraising dinner, where he accuses the Republicans of “running against Eugene Debs,” the late Socialist leader, and taking a “can’t afford it” attitude toward problems.
So far we haven't run across any photos showing LBJ wearing this Hamilton watch. This is impossible to search in our current database. Looking through thousands of actual photos requires a "brute force" effort, and the Library doesn't have resources (staff & time) to undertake such monumental tasks.
But based on the info acquired so far, I'm very confident that the watch is not only completely authentic, but that Johnson wore it as President (at least occasionally).